Origins of 19-star flag may be researched

Grovetown's flag is thought to be from 1818. The city hopes to hire historians to analyze it.

Propped against a wall in Grovetown City Hall in all its old glory is a framed flag that's seen its share of salutes.


The 19-star, 15-stripe American flag, which came to the town recently by way of Fort Gordon, might be about 190 years old and is thought to have flown in combat.

"For being in battle it's in pretty good shape," Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau said.

The flag was once displayed in the former U.S. Army School Museum at Fort Gordon. However, its 19 stars are a mystery. No official U.S. emblem has ever carried 19 stars, says flag historian Dr. Whitney Smith of the Flag Research Center in Winchester, Mass.

An analysis of the antique flag, commissioned in the 1960s by the Fort Gordon museum, places its origin around 1818, according to historical documents.

The 1818 flag replaced a 1795 banner with 15 stars and 15 stripes.

Dr. Smith, who has not analyzed Grovetown's flag, said unofficial 19-star flags have been made for many reasons at various times in U.S. history.

The flag's documents include a 1966 notarized deposition by the late William Freund Sr., of Augusta, stating the family believed it was already an old flag when it survived with relatives through the Civil War.

Soon enough, some of the Grovetown flag's mysteries could be unraveled. Mr. Trudeau said the city is considering hiring historians to conduct further research.

The city knows Mr. Freund's grandfather owned the flag during the Civil War.

"I think it's a little bit of history back in there that people need to look at it," he said.

Reach J. Scott Trubey at (706) 863-6165.


- Nicknamed "Old Glory"

- On Aug. 3, 1949, President Truman declared every June 14 Flag Day.

- A star represents each of the 50 states and the stripes represent each of the 13 original colonies.

- Betsy Ross is most-often credited with creating the first American flag approved by the Continental Congress June 14, 1777. Congressman Francis Hopkinson is often credited as its designer.

- The 50th star was added to the flag for the state of Hawaii on July 4, 1960.

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